Field of Science

Surprise! Scientists now say that Crocodiles are not "Living Fossils".

Here are some excerpts from a BBC article that was posted online today:

"Crocodiles can no longer be referred to as "living fossils", according to scientists".


"Members of the crocodilian [sic] family have previously been thought to have changed little since prehistoric times. However, new fossil analyses suggests that modern crocodilians actually evolved from a very diverse group".

"Recently discovered ancient ancestors include small cat-like specimens, giant "supercrocs" and a pug-nosed vegetarian species".

"Modern crocodilians are adapted to aquatic environments with long snouts, strong tails and powerful jaws. Yet contrary to popular belief, scientists now suggest that the basic body structure of crocodiles, alligators and ghariels [sic] evolved from a diverse group of prehistoric reptiles with different body shapes".

You can read the rest of this story here.  I am always flabbergasted how these "popular beliefs" still persist and how this "revelation" can be considered new.

Can't wait to get my copy of the new JVP memoir though.  It sounds incredible.

4 comments:

  1. Tuataras aren't living fossils either, but that won't stop the media.

    The most offensive part is here:

    "A tuatara’s teeth likewise follow the no-nonsense design seen in dinosaur dentition, erupting directly from the jawbone and without the niceties of tooth sockets and periodontal ligaments that characterize the teeth of all mammals and many reptiles."

    Many other living lepidosaurs (members of the clade containing not only tuataras, but also lizards and snakes) also have the "parietal eye" as well. This is not unique to the tuatara. :-(

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  2. I wrote an email to the author about that one. Couldn't resist. Never heard back though.

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  3. Yay, The memoir is out now. Truly an epic tomb, similar to the style of the Majungasaurus memoir, but larger

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  4. "Giant supercrocs" are a new discovery? Purussaurus was named in 1892, Deinosuchus in 1909.

    (Yes, I know they're probably thinking of Sarcosuchus, but it was just a better specimen, not radically bigger.)

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